Maine Man Charged With Stealing, Crashing Two Police Cars Held Without Bail

    by Sidney Hunt
    Published: May 21, 2024 (4 weeks ago)

    In a dramatic series of events, a Maine man has been charged with the theft and subsequent crashing of two police cars, leading to his detention without bail. The incident unfolded late Monday night, shocking residents and law enforcement officials alike with its audacity and the potential danger involved.

    Authorities have identified the suspect as 34-year-old Jason Hunter from Lewiston. According to the Portland Police Department, Hunter allegedly seized the first police car around 11 PM during a routine traffic stop on Congress Street. Officers had pulled over a vehicle for a minor traffic violation when Hunter, reportedly unnoticed at first, managed to slip into the unoccupied cruiser and drive off.

    The situation quickly escalated as police launched a city-wide manhunt. Within thirty minutes, officers received reports of a police car being driven recklessly through downtown Portland. Despite multiple attempts to stop the vehicle, Hunter evaded capture, weaving through traffic at high speeds and running several red lights.

    The chase came to a dramatic pause when Hunter collided with a parked vehicle on Forest Avenue. Undeterred, he fled the scene on foot, only to come across another police cruiser left unattended as officers canvassed the area. Seizing the opportunity, Hunter took off in the second vehicle, renewing the high-speed pursuit.

    The chase continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning, finally concluding when Hunter lost control and crashed the second police car into a utility pole near the intersection of Park Avenue and St. John Street. He was apprehended on the scene by pursuing officers without further incident. Remarkably, no serious injuries were reported, though both police vehicles sustained significant damage.

    Hunter now faces a litany of charges, including grand theft auto, reckless driving, evading law enforcement, and causing property damage. During his initial court appearance on Tuesday afternoon, the judge denied bail, citing the severe risk to public safety and Hunter’s prior criminal record, which includes similar offenses.

    “This is a rare and serious case of criminal behavior that could have resulted in much more tragic consequences,” said Portland Police Chief Frank Clark. “We are thankful that no one was hurt and that the suspect is now in custody.”

    Public reaction has been one of disbelief and concern. “It’s crazy to think someone could just take a police car like that, not once but twice,” said local resident Sarah Mitchell. “I hope this serves as a wake-up call for better security measures.”

    The Portland Police Department has already initiated an internal review of their vehicle security protocols to prevent similar incidents in the future. Meanwhile, Hunter remains in Cumberland County Jail, awaiting a court date set for later this month. If convicted, he could face a substantial prison sentence, reflecting the seriousness of his actions and their impact on the community.

    As the investigation continues, Portland’s residents are left to ponder the surreal nature of the night’s events, hoping for tighter security and swifter justice in the wake of this extraordinary crime spree.